MAC: Mines and Communities

24 Died Near Rapu-rapu Mine In Typhoon's Wake

Published by MAC on 2006-12-05
Source: GMANews.TV ()

24 died near Rapu-Rapu mine in typhoon's wake

December 5, 2006

By AMITA LEGASPI, GMANews.TV

An environmental group said on Tuesday that 24 residents living near a controversial mine run by Australia-based Lafayette in Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay province have reportedly died in landslides and flash floods caused by super typhoon Reming last week.

People's Network for the Environment national coordinator Clemente Bautista told GMANews.TV that reports gathered by the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC-Phils.) showed 24 deaths in three villages, including 11 in Malobago, 12 in Tinup-an, and one in Poblacion.

In a preliminary report posted on its website on Tuesday, Lafayette noted 11 deaths in Malabago.

"There were eleven fatalities from a landslide in the local community of Malobago on the island. We are grateful that no fatality or injury was sustained on the site of our Rapu Rapu operation," Lafayette said.

The report added that the mining and processing operations at the Rapu Rapu mine have been suspended while they assess the damage wrought by the super typhoon.

Bautista said the landslide in Malabago and flash floods in Tinup-an may not have been brought about by Reming alone because other nearby islands did not suffer the same fate.

"We have many reasons to suspect that the open-pit mining operations in the Ungay-Malobago deposit and the rest of Lafayette's mining areas have directly contributed to the gravity of the landslides and flash floods that killed at least 24 Rapu-Rapu residents," Bautista said.

He noted that Malobago is classified as a direct impact area of Lafayette's 400-hectare polymetallic mining operation, as it is also the site where Lafayette continues to extract sulfide reserves from the Ungay-Malobago "ore body" through open-pit mining.

"Rapu-Rapu is a peninsula separated from Albay's sloping landscape and Mayon lahar-filled areas where the other fatal mudslides and flash floods occurred. The only other obvious cause of widespread denudation, earth movement and displacement in the area is Lafayette's mine operations," he said. -GMANews.TV

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